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Report on PRA in Tibetan Spaniels - Maureen Sharp February 2004


In October 2003 Beryl Grounds and I went to visit the AHT. We know that they have done a huge amount of work towards finding the PRA gene in Tibetan Spaniels and have gone a considerable way in getting a result. They have identified four specific chromosomes and an additional eight promising markers and have typed these markers on all the blood samples of the Tibetan Spaniels they have. Unfortunately the results are inconclusive in that they cannot confirm or exclude any of these four chromosomes. They therefore need more blood samples of PRA cases and their immediate families.

In the meantime the AHT are investigating whether they can get any help from the USA genome sequence and the work being done on PRA in another Tibetan breed. I have recently heard a vet from Italy will be at the AHT for three months and she is going to spend her time piecing together the sequences of genes known to cause PRA in other breeds, and testing them on the Tibetan Spaniels. It will be good to have a dedicated person to concentrate on that.

We believe that there have been two new cases of PRA in 2001 and four in 2002 but have only been partly successful in getting blood from each individual affected dog and his relatives. This is obviously difficult in some cases when individual family members have died and there were few in the litter. There have been several when we have received little co-operation which is very regrettable. Ideally we need samples from a PRA case, his brothers and sisters, parents and if possible grandparents. In another breed this might add up to 12 blood samples (pra case + 5 siblings, parents and grandparents). One of our last cases gives us three samples only, the pra case and brother and sister, both parents are dead and we are trying to get the four grandparents so you can see our difficulty.

Once again we urge everyone to have their Tibetan Spaniels tested for PRA. Please could we also urge everyone to check whether any brothers and sisters of affected dogs are available and to check that any dogs with eye problems are tested including those that went to other homes as puppies. Obviously if a new dog is diagnosed and we already have the blood from relatives this would be very helpful.

I am afraid therefore that we are awaiting further progress - we are so near and yet so far.

PRA Fund

The situation with regard to the PRA fund -

  Sent to the AHT £7000
  In the bank £6309
  Sent direct to the AHT through the fund £2051
  Sent direct to the AHT by TSA (information from TSA) £4514

On behalf of the Committee of the PRA Fund I would like to thank everyone and all the breed clubs for their support. We hope it won't be too long before we get the result we want.

Please contact me if there are any queries or if I can be of any help.

Maureen Sharp (Co-ordinator) is home of the PRA Fund and the South East & East Anglian Tibetan Spaniel Society